Wednesday, February 2

Azzaman in English: Democratic Elections?

Azzaman in English (Baghdad, Iraq): Did We Have a Democratic Election?
As the sun set on Sunday and electoral officials began collecting ballot boxes, a new era is supposed to have dawned in our nation?s history. At least that is what those who wanted the elections to take place would like us now to believe. But weren?t they the same people who spoke the same language as U.S. ?liberation troops? landed in Baghdad? Didn?t they also speak of ?a new era? with the demise of dictatorship in March 2003? Carried away by our enthusiasm and glee to see the end of the former oppressive regime, most of us initially had faith in what they said. However, it did not take us long to see our hopes and ambitions of a civil, democratic and secure society falling apart before our own eyes. The infamous Governing Council ? whose emergence was also hailed as ?a new era? ? dismally failed to cure any of our diseases. On the contrary, its policies and wrangling plunged the country deeper into violence and lawlessness. Then we were made to believe that our occupiers wanted to give us back our sovereignty ? a step they also described for us as ?a new era.? Little did we know that the interim government would be merely a new face of the defunct Governing Council, working as a front for the occupation. In the interim government?s ?new era? which lasted six months, things worsened beyond the worst of predictions. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis became refugees in their own country; at least two major cities were re-invaded; Baghdad, the capital turned into a wild city; the government lost control of Mosul, the country?s third largest city; and most of the country, apart from the Kurdish north, descended into lawlessness and violence. Now we have less fuel, less electricity, less security, less food, higher corruption and embezzlement than any time before. Amid these circumstances we are at the threshold of yet another ?new era? which portends far more risks and dangers for the hapless Iraqis than those before it. Those boycotting the elections ? and in no way they can be ignored ? will not stand idle, as the winners of the polls ? who are not hard to tell in a vote with foregone conclusion ? steer ?the new era.? The whole of post-Saddam epoch started on the wrong foot. It divided the country and the nation into regions, sects, religions, minorities, zones and triangles. No serious attempt has been made to correct the plunders that accompanied the foreign occupation. There is no reason to believe those administering ?the new era? will do any better. Witness: their past two ?new eras? which had been a disaster for the nation.

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